Since in the eighties contributed to forge what is known as Fura language, Marcel·lí Antunez Roca has continued bluring the boundaries between spectator and performer, between scenic language and visual arts, street and classical theatre, folk art and advanced technology.
In their projects coexist the use of sophisticated interactives with experiences that keep intact the umbilical cord with his origins: the family butchery, the abattoir, village festivals…, as inheritance of a worldview linked to rural communities, where men, animals and earth are part of the same cycle; and in which bodily process are not called with the term abject. It remains safe from the symbolic prophylaxis that modern societies adopt.
Marcel·lí integrates into the same organic cycles cultural processes that transform our bodies and the way we relate each other. Mechatronic designs and implementations that uses in his performances as prosthesis, exoskeletons, interfaces and robots serve to enhance aspects that tend to be neglected in the digital age: storytelling, body communication, visceral instinct …
Instinctual nature of relationships, sex, life and death, is the backbone of his work. Men provide technological extensions as control and submission strategies, but these also serve to amplify their psychosomatic possibilities. Both sides (coercion and release, pain and ecstasy, Eros and Thanatos) conspire in performances where spectators can intervene in the course of events through hypertext narrative and telematic applications.
- If I had to summarize in one sentence your work I would say is the interest in expanding the sensory and imaginative experience of human being. The paradox is that you make of technology a tool to recover the most basic and animal in us. Nature has been denatured and we need the artifice to re-naturalize ourselves?
Indeed for me the core of art is the ability to expand the sensory and imaginative experience of the human being and at the same time to respond to their basic instincts, that is what we have animals (that’s all). However, especially in urban environments we live in a world far removed from nature and built by cultural artifacts such as sewers, streets, buildings and urinals. I was born in the countryside where even today the natural and the artificial coexist, and my “cosmogony” was formed from these experiences. So for me it is not paradoxical doing what I do.
- Even in a piece like Epizoo where the exoskeleton instead of expanding the body submitted it with telematic systems, the initial idea was to create a machine to allow prophylactic sexual relations in times of AIDS. Technology at the service of pleasure?
Of course. The main device my action Epizoo is a muskeleton, ie a mechanized exoskeleton that controls some parts of my body, erogenous ones. This device allows the user to “touch” my body electronically. This movement is produced by an imperfect machine that sometimes instead of producing pleasure causes discomfort, pain. Sex is in its logical conclusion a life instinct, a hundred years without sex and our species become extinct, while violence is a contrary, death instinct. Epizoo sets out this double game where the erotic touch is sometimes violent.
- In subsequent projects, with body interfaces that move you to mythical times (inspired by the Odyssey, in the legend of the Minotaur …) are used hypertextual narratives that ooze eroticism. Does the fable allows deal with sex in an innocent way, circumventing taboos?
Myth and fable move our fundamental impulses on a narrative level and in some way are smoothed. Although I’m also interested in raw and gritty proposals I understand that is not always easy to get them to the public. Fable is a way to build bridges between your ideas and the public. On the other hand I’m interested in Greek myths because they refer to a world before monotheistic religions and very connected to the phenomena of nature, so I feel at home in them.
- You take us also to utopian future inspired in microbiology where take part prosthesis of sexual and neurological excitement. Fungi reproduction by spores (xampisex), floral sexuality … are models from which you draw prototypes of orgiastic stimulation. Rhizome sex as a metaphor of social utopia? ¿Affective flows as relational gear?
Actions where I gather the description of these utopians devices are Transpermia and Protomembrana. I use a form of parascientist story that ironically allows me to expose my ideas. I like this formula. Although the ideas I develop are speculative, I have had chance to practice some of these precepts in my workshops, Satèl·lits Obscens 1996/97 and during the creation of Hipermembrana 2007, in such cases the orgiastic experiences are very intense and people involved enjoy them, so there is something real.
- Animals, machines and people are integrated in orgiastic rites in tone of fable ¿pantheistic feeling or techno-zoophilia?
Pantheistic feeling techno-zoophilic
- Another simile drawn from biology to which you allude is the term membrane: what isolates and transpires at the same time. Your drawings, gadgets and performances emphasize the porosity of the skin, desecrating the limits imposed, both inward and outward. Dresses that betray their insulating function, that detonate secretions (fluxdress in Hipermembrana …), masks that suggest transformisms liberators of identity … Cybernetics at first contributes to permeabilize those limits, but can also reinforce them. How do you see the future?
I think the development of traditional thinking (20th century) has occurred in tight compartments (within them, never on the edges) as a matter of difficulty, because the boundaries are often complex. But for 25 years has appeared a tool for managing complexity, computers. The future is there. I chose the membranes precisely because I care boundaries, borders, transit areas, prostheses, interfaces, sphincters, gestures …
- “Sex is the most obvious manifestation of life … it takes the most subtle and the most obscene forms …” Are sentences rescued from your manifesto El Dibuixant. Talking about the obscene, grotesque …, your work (alhought is not his primary motivation) seems to mock the stigma attached to those categories, and the ridiculousness of some demarcations to be redeployed in every time and place. You say looking for the vital experience throughout its range. How to achieve this in a world that increasingly distances us more from real body?
It is a complicated issue because the traditional mechanisms that stigmatized obscenity have dissolved into the private sphere with pornography massification. There is a difference between public and private that everyone accepts and often entangles this goal: the vital experience throughout its range. Some aspects of my work try to combat this mess creating devices, images and stories that invite to a different experience.